Irish Republican Army

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. Organisations going by this name have been dedicated to irredentism through Irish republicanism, the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic free from British rule.[1]

Flying Column No. 2 of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade of the Old IRA, photographed during the early 1920s. All organisations calling themselves "Irish Republican Army" claim legitimate descent (sometimes compared to apostolic succession) from this IRA of 1919–22.

The original Irish Republican Army (1919–1922) (often now referred to as the "old IRA") was raised in 1917 from members of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, later reinforced by Irishmen (formerly in the British Army in World War I) who returned to Ireland to fight against Britain in the Irish War of Independence.[citation needed] In Irish law,[2] this IRA was the army of the revolutionary Irish Republic as declared by its parliament, Dáil Éireann, in 1919.

In the century that followed, the original IRA was reorganised, changed and split on multiple occasions, to such a degree that many subsequent paramilitary organisations have been known by that title – most notably the Provisional Irish Republican Army which was a key participant during the Troubles. The contemporary IRA organisations each claim the sole right to use that name, as they each insist they are the only legitimate descendants of the original IRA.